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Winter Storm Causes 14 Deaths While Leaving Millions Without Electricity and Heat

Winter Storm Causes 14 Deaths While Leaving Millions Without Electricity and Heat

No power is more of an “existential threat” than any dreamed up by bureaucrats and green-energy-connected politicians.

Winter storms have caused at least 14 deaths across four states.

These storms caused a deadly tornado in North Carolina while it frosted power grids in other states, leading to rolling blackouts when people need heat the most.

The deaths include three people killed when a tornado struck coastal North Carolina around midnight Monday, destroying homes and injuring at least 10 other people.

To date, the fatalities have been heavily concentrated in Texas, and especially Houston, where more than 4 million residents have been without power for more than 24 hours amid bitterly cold temperatures and dangerously icy conditions.

And while I featured Texas in my first post on this subject, 13 other states are also facing the possibility of power outages because of the conditions.

A major power-grid manager that operates in states from North Dakota to Texas has ordered rolling blackouts amid an extreme cold blast that has hit much of the US.

Southwest Power Pool, which is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas, ordered the rolling blackouts Monday, declaring an energy emergency. Extreme weather had already taken out power for millions of homes in Texas, where temperatures hit record lows.

According to The New York Times, the organization manages the electric grid used in all of Oklahoma and Kansas and parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, and New Mexico.

The grid operator said in a statement on Twitter that this was the first time it had ordered mass rolling blackouts and that it was doing so to prevent further uncontrolled power failures.

The winter storm may be the “cold shower” this country needs to re-evaluate the condition of our electrical infrastructure, including reliance on green energy sources that have less-than-robust technology.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson had a chilling summary of our electrical grid’s state and the consequences of not being prepared for extreme cold.

Carlson’s entire monologue was excellent. However, his addressing the climate activists’ “existential threat” mantra was the show-stopper:

“Climate crisis”, “existential threat”, “ambitious plan”. You hear those phrases a lot and you’ll notice that they are all suspiciously non-precise. So what do they mean for you? Will they mean higher energy prices? For starters, gas prices are already up, in case you haven’t noticed. Electricity will follow. Higher costs hurt the weakest, inflation always does, but it’s worse than that. Green energy inevitably means blackouts.

Someday that may change as technology progresses, but as of right now and given the current state of technology, green energy means a less reliable power grid. It means failures like the ones we’re seeing now in Texas. That’s not a talking point, that is true. It’s science. So of course, they’re denying it.

No power is more of an “existential threat” than any dreamed up by bureaucrats and green-energy-connected politicians.

It is hard to believe that a few short months ago, the country was energy-independent and had plans to upgrade its infrastructure.

Prayers to all those experiencing power outages in the Great Plains states. At least in California, we don’t generally get blackouts in sub-zero weather.


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Someday that may change as technology progresses, but as of right now and given the current state of technology, green energy means a less reliable power grid. It means failures like the ones we’re seeing now in Texas.

No, frozen wind turbines aren’t the main culprit for Texas’ power outages

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Wow – Ol’ Zach is telling us the natural gas pipe lines in Texas are freezing up. It must be really cold in Texas since the freezing point of methane is -296.42 degrees.

    Well, so much for global warming.

      not trying to defend Ol’zach, but I have read several articles that allude to the same thing, the gas also contains water/water vapor, which is crock of horse manure. I have a gas condo, if there is water in the gas I’m not getting what I am paying for, but to continue on, they gave a equally horse manure ans on why they had to shut down the nuclear generations plants. I my humble opinion they didn’t want ‘renewable’ energy sources to look bad.

      Brave Sir Robbin: Zach is telling us the natural gas pipe lines in Texas are freezing up.

      We didn’t say that. However, the pipeline system is apparently not properly protected from cold weather.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 1:14 pm

        “We did not say that”?

        Using the royal “we” now? A bit premature don’t you think?

        Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 2:19 pm

        The problem with the natural gas is not freezing of the the pipeline or pumps, etc. It is that there was sudden and near simultaneous loss of 25% of the electrical power generation in the state of Texas (wind-generators) plus a very large, sudden, and also near simultaneous spike in demand. This left a large void in the power distribution system that non-wind capacity could not fill. Because you cannot partially fill a power grid, the alternative generators also go off line. It’s called load rejection, and results in all the other affected generators on the line to trip offline. The results in having to re-organize the grid to isolate generators to get them back up. Then everything has to be synchronized to restore power into the grid to avoid new load-rejection. With demand still sky high, and non-wind capacity no high enough to supply the entire wind-power replacement and increased demand, plus some oddities concerning the Texas power-grid, and the need to shift power around to ration it, they can’t get the grid working again. Opening it up simply immediately trips out the generators. They are unable to isolate portions of the grid sufficiently because they need to roll, that is, ration, power around.

        The natural gas pipelines have compressor stations that are not getting power to maintain system pressure because of these blackouts, not because they are frozen by the cold. The gas powered generators are down because they do not produce enough power in the grid to replace the wind-power loss and increased demand, and just trip off when restarted.

        Until demand recedes and the wind-mills unfreeze (those were definitely affected by the cold weather – blades iced up and became unbalanced and had to be locked to keep them from turning and destroying the tower), there simply is not enough generating capacity in the system.

        So the problem is not natural gas, it’s the over-reliance on wind-turbines and a very unexpected occurrence of state wide weather that cause ice accumulation on the blades of nearly the entire wind-generation system while demand skyrocketed, and Texas not having enough reserve non-wind generation capacity.

        Admittedly, this was a low probability event, but it is not unreasonable to expect, very infrequently, large state-wide weather that could cause the shut down of most of the wind-generation capacity in the sate, as large as it is. The second low probability event was coupling that loss of wind power generation to a skyrocketing in demand.

        This is a classic example of what happens when you do not have excess power generation capacity over and above what wind and solar can provide. Dependence upon “green” energy necessitates simultaneously maintaining a “non-green” backup power generation capability to take up the load for the entire “green” portion of the system. So, installing wind and solar actually does not save you capital cost or expenditures, because you have to build and maintain both, simultaneously. All you really do, therefore, is make power generation more expensive, if you want reliability, which people do. If you want non-carbon emitting reliable power, and that desire is actually not rationally based as it is predicated upon certain computer models that have been proven with statistical certitude to be wrong, you have to go nuclear, which is a boogie man to people who refuse to listen to real science or reason. But it’s the only real choice.

        The article you linked is idiocy.

          Jenwithgodsgrace in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | February 17, 2021 at 8:16 pm

          Excellent explanation. May I share it?

          The primary power loss in Texas is due to Natural Gas, Wind power is only a relatively small proportion of that power loss. The stats you cite are incorrect as well not all windpower has failed.

          “It’s estimated that about 80% of the grid’s capacity, or 67 gigawatts, could be generated by natural gas, coal and some nuclear power. Only 7% of ERCOT’s forecasted winter capacity, or 6 gigawatts, was expected to come from various wind power sources across the state.

          Woodfin said Tuesday that 16 gigawatts of renewable energy generation, mostly wind generation, are offline and that 30 gigawatts of thermal sources, which include gas, coal and nuclear energy, are offline.”

          In other words the bulk of energy generation was anticipated to come from non renewable power generation not Wind Power. The reality is not whether renewable or non renewable did better or not its that Texas has issues with the cold weather from a design perspective. The infrastructure wasn’t designed to deal with this weather. The answer therefore is a combination of the following 1) improved resilience of the existing infrastructure 2) connecting to the wider grid to balance load and power demands 3) improved efficiency in homes (in terms of insulation and other technologies).

          I don’t know what the situation is with regard to house construction in the US and Texas in particular – is there a minimum U value requirement?

    gibbie in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 10:32 am

    You are correct that there were other failures which contributed to the power outages in Texas. But frozen wind turbines were part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Have you watched Michael Moore’s documentary, “Planet of the Humans”?

      JusticeDelivered in reply to gibbie. | February 17, 2021 at 12:34 pm

      Who wants to watch More, he is as hideous as Abrams, and only marginally smarter.

      ConradCA in reply to gibbie. | February 17, 2021 at 2:59 pm

      Anyone who watches Moore is brain dead.

      mark311 in reply to gibbie. | February 18, 2021 at 5:58 am

      “In reality, wind turbine outages have been responsible for less than 13% of Texas’ total power shortages, the nonprofit electric grid overseer Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) told Bloomberg and local news outlets on Tuesday.”

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Wait! So you mean and advocacy group for the turbines says it wasn’t he turbines! Well slap my fanny and call me Calvin!

    Do you actually read the BS you write?

    gonzotx in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    Sorry you all big fingers strike again, meant that to be a DOWN ? vote

    ConradCA in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    This is proof that we shouldn’t depend on electricity to heat our homes like the environ-mentally ill want.

    Voyager in reply to Zachriel. | February 17, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Did find out why most of the turbine froze though.

    The turbines’ lubrication froze.

    What I’m thinking is they need to use a high temperature lubricant to avoid breakdown in the summers, but the requirements for a high temperature lubricant are pretty much the exact opposite of what is required for a low temperature lubricant.

      randian in reply to Voyager. | February 19, 2021 at 5:25 am

      but the requirements for a high temperature lubricant are pretty much the exact opposite of what is required for a low temperature lubricant

      That’s why automotive engine oil is dual-viscosity. Why can’t the same chemistry be used on wind turbine lubricant?

smalltownoklahoman | February 17, 2021 at 9:31 am

Green energy will almost always be a supplement and should not be a main source of power generation. We need, NEED!, robust forms of CONSTANT power generation in order to meet the demands of our modern societies. Things we can do individually can help moderate those needs (energy efficient devices/appliances, good insulation) but it doesn’t make them go away. Fossil fuels are going to stick around and remain in use until we’ve basically used them all up (which is still decades away) and in the meantime we should be generating more from the source many don’t even want to entertain: nuclear. We’re going to have to eventually so we might as well get to it!

    JusticeDelivered in reply to smalltownoklahoman. | February 17, 2021 at 9:59 am

    People need to have a generator and at least a week’s worth of fuel on hand to run it. A lithium battery having a capacity of 10-20 KW and a sine wave inverter. That greatly lowers the cost of running the generator.

    After you have all that, you might as well add solar panels.

      Why not just use the inexpensive and plentiful natural gas? Have the pipeline have dedicated natural gas powered generators to power the compressors.

When you wave a basket full of cash in front of a politician you get wind turbines. Doesn’t matter you cant use them for many days, they require way more maintenance than other forms of power. It’s always about the flow of cash. Why do you think John Deere owns so many. not doing it for their power usage. It because windmills look good to the low IQ and the government pays them off which in turn means “donations” to the politicians.

Energy equals life.
Reliable, affordable energy equals prosperity.
The goal of the Green New Deal appears to be a return to the situation, not much more than a century ago, when life was short, brutish and mean.

“windmills look good to the low IQ”

Only from a distance.

I don’t believe people living thru this and the gas price increases will forget it, or that they won’t realize “green” is what contributed to it. Sooner or later. (tho we do have a lot of very dim voters here, so I guess it would take 40 years)

Have not lost power here yet, but constant reminders to “conserve” and constant fear of power loss for I believe the 5th day now.

I believe Nemesis is whipping her horse. This is the *third* sign she’s coming after the smug, arrogant, self-regarding fools: 1) Cuomo aid slip of the lip; 2) Newsom recall petition; 3) yeah, let’s go green and freeze in the dark.

What will #4 be? Something to do with the “vaccine”, I think. But heaven knows. Nemesis always strikes out of the blue. Who foresaw the Cuomo thing? Newsom certainly didn’t see himself at risk. Biden et al think they’re in the catbird seat.

What do I hope? Sunshine Friday, please, and let #4 be La Cunya the Madame Speaker .

Now the other shoe drops. Per ERCOT, the price of power jumped from $50/MWH to as high as $10000, (they capped it around $8000, IIRC) although naturally it’s expected that they’ll drop back to near normal as soon as this passes through. Wait until we get THAT electric bill.

The Friendly Grizzly | February 17, 2021 at 12:10 pm

Deaths? All for the greater good!


The problem here was not the wind turbines or the solar panels. It was a combination of the increasing dominance of electricity as the power source for the end user, both due to convenience and cost, the severity of the storm, the time of year and, in the case of Texas, the isolation of the power grid from surrounding states.

First, fossil fuels have been diminishing in favor, with end users, for decades. They are best used mainly for the generation of heat. Electricity will do that as well as drive multitude of appliances. To have a reliable, full-time electrical generating source, at the end user’s location, requires a generator. Besides the initial cost of the generator, there is the ongoing costs for fuel and maintenance. So, it is usually much less expensive to utilize electricity generated elsewhere and transmitted to the end user. So, the end user is no dependent upon an external source for power generation. And, that source has to be both, reliable enough and flexible enough to reliably sufficient electrical power to meet any demand. This brings us to the second weak link in the power system, transmission.

Almost all electrical transmission, from generator to end user, is accomplished through the use of wires which are exposed to the elements and other hazards. Damage to these wires causes a disruption to power delivery. Now, in this case, we had a winter storm which included very low temperatures and extensive ice and snow. And, this was problem number three.

Storms cause power outages every year, all across the country. In the northern tier of states, which see similar storms regularly, users tend to have non-electrical heating appliances. In the states, with milder climates, this is less likely to be the case. So, add in weather conditions which disrupt the transmission of electricity with extremely low temperatures and the lack of alternate heating sources and you have a serious problem.

But Texas also has one more problem. It is largely unconnected to a larger power grid. This condition means that almost all demand for electrical power has to be met by the internal power grid. If part of the generating sources, on that grid fail, this makes it more difficult for the grid to match demand.

So, here we have a storm which covers an out-sized area, much of which has not had to deal with such storms for years. Couple this with weather related power delivery disruptions, Then throw in extreme low temperatures and you have a disaster.

But, we have deaths in many extreme weather events, including storms, every year. So, while some of the fatalities here might have been avoided, with a better infrastructure, 14 deaths, out of millions affected, is hardly out of line.

Beware of political spin, from whichever direction.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Mac45. | February 17, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Great analysis.

    gonzotx in reply to Mac45. | February 17, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    Wind mills are suppose to deliver 30% of Texas power source. That is a huge problem regardless of other factors
    It’s all hat and no cattle.

    Do you think Alaska is dependent on wind mills?

      Mac45 in reply to gonzotx. | February 17, 2021 at 2:05 pm

      Of course a 30% dependence upon a power source of limited reliability is insane. But, that was not the main reason why Texas, and surrounding states, experienced the failure that they did. The systemic failures are built in. A single source of power, lower than needed generation capacity, insufficient back-up available and a transmission infrastructure susceptible to weather disruptions. Add in a novel weather event and BOOM!

        mark311 in reply to Mac45. | February 18, 2021 at 9:57 am

        Agreed for the most part. You are right that wind power is intermittent but it does have some pattern since we know broadly when the windiest times of year are etc. The issue with wind is it needs the infrastructure to go with it i.e. battery storage and other forms of power generation. So yeah it is certainly not a silver bullet.

    Voyager in reply to Mac45. | February 17, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    I’ll also comment that there are rolling blackout happening all along the region hit by the polar vortex, from Texas up to North Dakota.

    Getting tied into a grid that’s also failing would not help things one bit. But hammering a state that’s not tied to the national grid does help push a narrative…

      zennyfan in reply to Voyager. | February 17, 2021 at 6:18 pm

      About 4 million customers (homes) were without power; with each having an average of 2.7 people per,residence, about 10 million people were left freezing — a third of Texas’ population. Worse, the “rotating blackouts” didn’t rotate, because the power companies prioritized “critical lines” customers. Anyone who lived near a cop shop, firehouse, hospital or the like kept power. Oh, and commercial users — downtown Austin was lit up like Las Vegas while the “non-critical” folks across the freeway were dark; they lost power very early Monday morning — and it hasn’t come back. I’m a “non-critical” on a different system, but my power went out Monday afternoon for long stretches, interrupted by one to four hours of power. It’s finally back, but I’m carrying a flashlight just in case. In addition to power, water system infrastructure froze, depriving large swaths of Travis County of water.

    gospace in reply to Mac45. | February 18, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    Except for fireplaces- most non-electrical heating devices, as you put it, require electricity to run. I have a 5.5 KW generator under my back deck. And my boiler is plugged in, not hardwired, an adaptation I made when power was out for 4 days due to THE ice storm in CNY. Running it for an hour every 4-6 hours keeps the house warm, the fridge and freezer cold, and will operate the well pump.

    Total reliance on the electrical or natural gas grid is a recipe for individual disaster. And- have at least 10 gallons of gas in canisters at your house that you rotate.

Laundered, intermittent, environmentally hazardous Green energy. A conspiracy of environmentalism and corporatism that has placed our economy and Americans at progressive risk (e.g. denial of nuclear waste reprocessing, inane natural gas regulatory standards, outsourcing petroleum recovery).

    mark311 in reply to n.n. | February 18, 2021 at 9:54 am

    Thats a pretty blanket set of statements.

    1) What on earth do you mean by Laundered?
    2) What do you mean by environmentally hazardous?
    3) Nuclear has some good points but its very expensive. From a free market perspective it can be problematic from a value for money point of view. Although clearly it has uses for base load. Nor do you really seem to understand nuclear waste processing, whilst its dependant in part on the type of nuclear reaction/processes being undertaken the by product is not easy at all to deal with.
    4) Texas isn’t subject to federal oversight for the power grid, they have a completely separate grid to avoid this which actually is a factor in the blackouts since it cant draw from neighbouring states to compensate
    5) I dont know what you mean by outsourcing petroleum recovery?

      gospace in reply to mark311. | February 18, 2021 at 7:05 pm

      Nuclear power is e3xpensive for one reason and one reason only- lawfare waged against each and every plant. If a project that can be built and is budgeted to be built6 in 3 years takes 6 or more because of constant harassing lawsuits, it doesn’t double the price- it more than triples it.

      Same thing occurs with high voltage transmission lines and oil/gas pipelines. Lawfare delays more than double the construction cost.

        gospace: Nuclear power is e3xpensive for one reason and one reason only- lawfare waged against each and every plant.

        That is incorrect. Nuclear power is almost uninsurable. For instance, the Fukushima nuclear disaster cost at least $200 billion. It’s difficult for insurers to even accurately gauge the risk.

This is a great example of why we shouldn’t use electricity to heat our homes.

Well, looks like at least in this area, we’re coming out of the end of the tunnel. Power’s been on now for over 2 hours.